HAKAM Urges the National Art Gallery to Uphold Freedom of Artistic Expression – Statement dd 10/02/2020

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HAKAM notes with grave concern the National Art Gallery’s decision to take down 4 paintings of visual artist Ahmad Fuad Osman’s exhibition titled “At The End Of The Day Even Art Is Not Important (1990-2019)”.

Ahmad Fuad Osman’s installation ‘Mak Bapak Borek, Anak Cucu Cicit Pun Rintik’ (2015-2018). Photo: Handout – Source the Star

This was reportedly pursuant to a complaint by a board member of the National Art Gallery itself. Some of the 4 paintings depicted politicians or contained political elements. This lead to Ahmad Fuad’s request to close down the entire exhibition.

HAKAM condemns the National Art Gallery’s decision to curtail & censor artistic expression. Freedom of artistic expression is part & parcel of the freedom of speech protected under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.

Politics plays a big part in our everyday lives. Art, in turn, is a reflection of life. Politics should not in any way be deemed as “sensitive”, “unsuitable” or “undesirable” in the arts. In fact, the arts should readily comment, critique & satirise politics in order to produce an enlightened electorate. The National Art Gallery – of all bodies – should hold true to these principles.

Ahmad Fuad Osman’s ‘Dreaming Of Being A Somebody Afraid Of Being A Nobody’ (UV print on mirror, 2019). Source The Star/Ong Soon Hin

HAKAM therefore urges the National Art Gallery to revoke its decision to take down Ahmad Fuad Osman’s 4 paintings.

HAKAM also requests for the National Art Gallery & the Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture’s commitment to not censor artistic expression in the future & to fully respect the freedom of artistic expression.

Lim Wei Jiet

HAKAM Secretary-General

10.2.2020 – HAKAM Urges the National Art Gallery to Uphold Freedom of Artistic Expression